We’ve all witnessed it. The guy roars up to the dock. Has a flash of, “Holy crap! I am going to crack this dock!” He has a panic moment. He throws the boat into reverse to avoid smashing his gleaming gel coat! The boat fishtails backwards. The captain turns to see what he is going to ram into. He barely misses the piling behind him so he throws it into forward. He comes at the dock again, only a hair slower. Slides up to it, slams it into reverse again, fishtailing again, but eventually manages to land the thing only to bark out an order to his mate to, “Grab the lines and hurry up!”
This scene takes place again and again! Reverse is used to “save the day!”
Actually, reverse was not created to “save the day,” nor was it created to “escape” or prevent “near misses.”It was created in order to . . . wait for it. . . simply reverse the direction of a boat. So why are we using it like a rocketblaster on a batmobile?!
The first real boat I learned to drive was an old Grady White. It was a beauty. In my mind it was gently used, straight off the showroom floor. In reality, it was a little like my Grandmother: a little tired, a little cranky, rusty, great bones, rich history, and while she was no longer a beauty queen, she could still hold her own with her domineering personality!
Just one of the personality quirks of this old boat, was that the engine did not have reverse. Since I wasn’t comparing it to anything else, it didn’t matter. That boat took me everywhere! Fishing, snorkeling, touring, overnight boat camping, to the Everglades. . . absolutely everywhere – all without a reverse gear.
A boat without reverse forces the captain to be CAREFUL around solid objects! The adage, “approach the dock only as fast as you want to hit it” was a very real warning because I had NO other option. I was either going to boat smarter, or ram into docks. My pride kept me from ramming.
None of my male captain friends could see the beauty of my one-gear wonder. No one wanted to borrow this boat, and no one wanted to use this boat. No one even listened when I defended that old Grady by suggesting that they might improve their own boating skills if they stopped using reverse.
To this day, very few of my male captain friends think this is a good idea. However, I guarantee you there is no quicker way to learn to boat with finesse than by learning to boat without reverse.
Seriously Simple Exercise to Master Your Bat Mobile and Master Momentum
- Get on board and PLEDGE to avoid reverse for an entire day of boating! Don’t use it for anything!
- Dock at least five times while out and about.
- Realize how much planning goes into docking and how incredibly careful you can be without the use of reverse.
- Hone this planning ability and use it when you go back to business as usual.
Skills improving? I thought so.